Agents of SHIELD season two second episode, “Heavy is the Head”, title is a reference to William Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part II, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” (III.1. 1735). Point being that the one who leads is never not worried about something but this doesn’t really apply to SHIELD other leaders. Brigadier General Glen Talbot is a caricature, squawking, hawk who is fully in Sheriff Buford T. Justice territory in terms of believable threat to our titular SHIELD agents. Though we do not see HYDRA leader Daniel Whitehall he seems to be doing fine (being the equivalent of a Nazi tends to help with the whole sociopathic exterior). The only one who is at unease is Coulson. “Heavy is the Head” finale reveals that he has opened up to May about his carvings and that she is documenting them. Maybe it is because this is all linked to Coulson’s resurrection (a botched and dramatically miscalculated thread from last season) that his ritualistic carving lacked any sort of catharsis for myself as a viewer as it did apparently for the character.
“Shadows” introduced several new characters, most of them are dead now but the ones that remain, like Lance Hunter(Nick Blood), are slowly filling out and one thing is clear they are already more interesting than most of the main cast. Lance Hunter’s surly personality and British accent is an interesting fits for the honorable Boy Scout ideals Coulson likes to view SHIELD in. But Coulson recognizes the situation that even if he betrayed them and shot May, Hunter has a certain set of skills that Coulson desperately needs. He doesn’t fit the mold the rest of the main cast, sure he’ll probably get with the heroic ideal more but I doubt he’ll ever say SHIELD is his life like Skye. We seem to have finally found our Han Solo type.
Mack(Henry Simmons) is a mystery, I guess he is the teams mechanic. Alphonso ‘Mack’ Mackenzie doesn’t show up in the Comicvine database either. He dose however get several scenes with Fitz (and not-Simmons) and in becoming Fitz new Science Buddy is brought into the fold on an emotional level that is surprisingly interesting. There is still plenty of time for Fitz’ current mental problems to go off the deep end of drama, but for now the dual perspective at play(Fitz’ and reality) force the show into doing something semi-interesting with both staging and editing - I guess it would be considered cross cutting —- between the two realities. For Iain De Caestecker it is certainly the most he has been asked to do, playing two separate representations of Leo Fitz for a single scene. In his reality with Simmons Caestcker acts like the normal pre-brain damage Fitz with a bit of a speech impediment. In reality he looks deranged; it’s a facial expression that would not be out of place on Scandal. With our ability to see this Simmons for what she really is, her actions almost as a mental manifestation that is both trying to maintain the status quo and heal Fitz, by making friends with Mack, gives every scene she is in a subtext that the majority of others lack. It forces these scenes to operate on a level beyond dispensing exposition and moving the plot forward. In the couple of scenes between Fitz and Mack, SHIELD felt like a product with artistry not one with typical three person blocking in a room and attempts at quipy dialog. “Heavy is the Head” dose do a good job emphasizing the isolation and nervousness Coulson feels by having him stuck in the office for the majority of the episode with only his headset and big screen connecting him to the outside world.
Overall the action staging for the show has continued to improve. Picking up moments after the end of “Shadows”, May chases after Creel on a motorcycle in a sequence that’s good enough. Ming Na Wen and Clark Gregg’s delivery of their lines as they two argue over engaging or simply following the Absorbing Man was both flat and due to their non-diegetic nature came off as incredibly false. Hunter’s little fist fight with Creel was also handled pretty well, it was short but maybe it’s a sign that their stunt coordinators and directors are more in sync. As trite as a slow motion bullet shot is, using it as a means to show Creel slowly activating his powers to deflect it was cool to see.
Glen Talbott may be an ineffectual wolf nipping at Coulson’s heels but “Heavy is the Head” introduces a third party to the dance in the form of Raina and Kyle MacLachlan, the man press releases refer to as the Doctor and Skye’s father. In the confusion, Raina makes off with the obelisk which also decides not to kill her. Not much else is really known about Raina or the Doctor’s motives, early guess it has something to do with the much rumored inHumans. Either way at least it is a party that isn’t a bunch of Boy Scouts or terrorist group bent on world domination (that is so 1945).
“Heavy is the Head” ends the first storyline of SHIELD second season and is a strong foot forward. Already it has laid cards on the table and articulated emotional stakes for several characters in ways the first fumbled constantly. Sure most of the main cast is still boring but Lance Hunter is there to mock them.
Bits At The End
Hunter keeps talking about his ex-wife anyone wana bet its Bobbi Morse.
I am Michael Mazzacane and you can find on Twitter @MaZZM